I've been thinking a lot about tool kits – an imaginary box filled with skills, strengths, resiliencies and other "tools" to get through the rough spots. My own encounters with grief waves have become infrequent but they still occur. Episodes of darkness, when the world feels broken and slowed somehow, used to last for days. Now, at nearly 6 years out, I have a dip every few months for perhaps an hour or so. This is real progress, but when the grief hits, I still need to rely on my inner resources. I still need to pull out an item from my tool kit.
My tool kit contains music. Listening, singing, drumming, humming – music has the power to open the channel between head and heart, so often blocked and restricted around the throat. Flowing into music and opening my voice elevates my mood. Music brings out another tool – dancing. Movement brings the music into my body and out again, integrating head heart and body. Reaching up to the sky, expanding my arms out and waving my torso and arms in spirals reminds me that expansion cures restriction. When sorrow collapses me into myself, opening my arms and chest helps to transform the sadness into a calmer feeling. When depression drops me to the floor, I allow myself a few moments down in the depths, then slowly rise, reaching up and outward. It is hard to stay in a dark place when you are imagining yourself unfolding like a spring flower.
Imagery. Imagination. When we are children, our imaginations run freely. We have a conversation with a giraffe, imaginary friends who live in China are about to arrive for dinner. As children, we have no issue with being a Bear, a Pirate or a person who can fly with special superpowers. As adults, we suppress these fantasies; they are "silly" or "childish" or "not normal." Imagination is the most important resource in our personal tool kits. As we grow up, we tamp down our dreams, our fancies. We don't trust our dreams or our envisioning power. After a while, we come to believe that we shouldn't engage in imaginal flights.
My trust in my own imagination was eroded by widowhood. My life broke open and I became afraid. The future, as I had imagined it, was gone. Slowly, I am remembering that imagery seeds my dreams; imagination is a strength I can utilize. It doesn't matter that I cannot literally fly; I have special skills that I ought to be using right now – dreaming, imagining, opening up to a fuller experience of life.
As I write this, it is a little too early to play music. But I can still dance to the sound of the birds, to the beating of my own heart. I can move to open joyfully to the experience of this day. I am going to do that right now!!